Thai princess visits Jodrell Bank Observatory
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand yesterday (5 July), visited Jodrell Bank Observatory to celebrate the close links between her country and The University of Manchester in astronomy.
On her visit, Her Royal Highness – who is a keen astronomer – met scientists from the University’s School of Physics & Astronomy who are working closely with Thai researchers on joint projects and heard about historic links between the University and the Royal Family which stretch back to an 1875 expedition to observe a solar eclipse.
She toured the observatory, including the iconic Lovell Telescope and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which welcomes 185,000 visitors each year, including 26,000 school pupils on educational visits.
She also visited the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array, an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope over two sites in South Africa and Australia.
One of the current collaborations Her Royal Highness heard about was with The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT). The Capacity Building for Thai Radio Astronomy NARIT-STFC Newton Fund Collaboration is led by the University of Hertfordshire with extensive involvement from Jodrell Bank and funding from the Science and Technologies Funding Council. It aims to provide training and technical support for the Thai National Radio Observatory Astronomy.
It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to Jodrell Bank and to introduce her to many of the researchers who are working together with Thai colleagues on this area of great mutual interest
This latest link is not the first between astronomers in Manchester and Thailand. In 1875 King Rama V invited foreign scientists to observe a total solar eclipse in Thailand.
Among them was Sir Arthur Schuster, an alumnus of Owens college – one of the University’s predecessor institutions – who later became a professor of mathematical physics at the University.
This event was marked during the visit as Her Royal Highness presented plaques of appreciation to several current and former scientists for their support of astronomy in Thailand.
Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, escorted her Royal Highness on the visit. He said: “The University of Manchester has a strong relationship with Thailand and this is exemplified by the links between Jodrell Bank and astronomers working at NARIT.
“It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to Jodrell Bank and to introduce her to many of the researchers who are working together with Thai colleagues on this area of great mutual interest.”